Review: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Lightsaber from Star Wars The Force AwakensThe trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens look pretty good. But I don’t trust trailers. I’ve been burned before. (Damn you to hell, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace!) And while I thought J.J. Abrams would be better suited to the Star Wars franchise than Star Trek, he can still be pretty hit or miss sometimes. So while I was hopeful, I also had some doubts.

Now we come to the big question. Did Star Wars: The Force Awakens suck?

No, with a 95% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and an 81% metascore at Metacritic, Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t suck. But you already knew this. That’s why there aren’t riots in the streets outside your home and why shots of nerds flipping over cars and setting them on fire aren’t on the daily news. OK, I misspoke. There are some fans who insist the prequels were good to this very day. (Wow.) They prove just how easy it is to mess with people’s minds. People like that are why cults exist, folks. Have you tried not being completely delusional? Let’s just move on.

Kylo Ren not holding up his infamous lightsaberMany of the rumors I had heard about the movie’s plot were untrue, so let’s dispel a few. There’s no shot of Luke‘s lightsaber floating through space with his severed hand. Luke doesn’t move a planet with the force. The Millennium Falcon didn’t get turned into a flying strip club. Princess Leia didn’t have sex with Jar Jar Binks and his penis doesn’t have the same, but higher pitched, voice as its owner. Chewbacca didn’t even marry Han Solo. Dammit. I was looking forward to that.

Now maybe I made some of those rumors up. You don’t want spoilers, so I’m not saying which ones. What matters is that none of them are true. Which is technically a spoiler in and of itself. Sorry.

Overall, this is not a perfect movie (no such thing, really). There were some disappointments and weak spots which I can’t go into without spoiling it for you. So I’ll just answer some basic questions you might have about the movie below and call it a day.

Did it feel like a real Star Wars movie?

Millenium Falcon

Sir! Please, just take a Force Tower and read it!

Mostly.

It didn’t have the soul crushing drudgery of the prequels, but didn’t feel quite as magical as the originals might have if you saw them as a kid.

It probably had about as much real story or plot to it as A New Hope, which had a bit more going on than the other two movies in some ways. This was a plus for me. Star Wars was always a bit simplistic in my opinion, though I longed for those simpler days after the prequels came out and Lucas started droning on and on about trade disputes.

For those who favor Star Wars over Star Trek because you think Star Wars is more exciting … the prequels make your argument invalid. Now stop comparing them because they’re nothing alike.

What were the lightsaber battles like?

Ouchie.Good. Some people really liked the battles in the prequels and I can understand this to a point. The fight between Obi-Wan and Vader in A New Hope looks really sad by modern standards while the duel of the fates from Phantom Menace was actually pretty good. But overall, I felt most of the lightsaber duels in the prequels were so over choreographed and weirdly low key at times that I didn’t really enjoy many of them. (Psst … soundtrack fans might want to listen to this alternate version of the Duel of the Fates music. Just an FYI.)

I would honestly say they are closer to the duels in Empire and Jedi than those of the prequels, and in a good way. Abrams promised they would be more realistic than the prequels. I think the movie delivered.

Note that the infamous Kylo Ren lightsaber cross guard thing was a factor in one scene, but not in as big a way as I would have liked. I was really hoping to see some clever justification for the new design that would make me go, “Oh! Cool!” But maybe something will happen in the sequels.

Do we get to see anything new with the force?

Lightsaber chopsticks are a thingThere is something near the start of the movie we haven’t seen before that involves blaster fire. Let’s just say that force users don’t need light sabers or the ability to bounce shots off of their hands to defend themselves when being fired upon.

Kylo Ren is clearly a telepath who can read minds and even dig through people’s memories, whereas in the earlier films, a force users ability to read minds seemed more vague or empathic in nature. This still isn’t that much of a stretch. Vader found out that Leia was Luke’s sister through some sort of telepathy in Jedi. But here, it’s so overt, there is just no doubting that they can scan your thoughts deliberately. And rather than just force choking people telekinetically, Ren can grab them and drag them closer while choking them. So it feels like the force has been given a bit of a boost in this film.

Is Jar Jar in it?

No. You’re welcome.

Does it have a lot of cutesy stuff like Jar Jar or the Ewoks?

BB-8Not really. My wife thought some of the jokes were dangerously close to being too cute, but I thought they mostly worked. In case you’re wondering, there isn’t an excess of quips or jokes as you might get in a Joss Whedon film, so don’t worry. Probably the most cutesy thing you’ll see is that round, yellow droid from the trailers, BB-8. Even his chirps sound like cuter versions of R2D2. Unless you’re really into Daisy Ridley, he is easily the cutest thing in the whole movie.

Are the Stormtroopers actually competent in this one?

Definitely more so than in the original movies. In fact, a good deal of the story is really told from the viewpoint of the bad guys, which I thought was cool. We get to see Kylo Ren‘s struggle to suppress the light side, for instance. And we get to see what it feels like to be a Stormtrooper who is about to go into battle.

Should I go see it?

Yep. I recommend this movie. Just remember that most theaters have signs posted about bringing “blasters” in when you watch the film and why dressing up like characters from the movies might not be a good idea. Also, understand that this is a movie that poses more questions than answers. Not unlike Empire did in a few places. If this bugs you, just try to relax and wait for the sequels.

About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah’s Witness turned secular humanist. He’s a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.

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